Coach Spotlight: Laton Dowling

When the town of Dodge City is mentioned, usually it conjures up images of the Old West, such Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday dueling pistols in saloons against the town's outlaws. The name Laton Dowling even sounds like a character John Wayne would play in a classic western movie. Bill Snyder is hoping Dowling brings some of the Old West swagger to his Wildcat linebacking corp come next fall.

"Laton came in as a freshman and played great on the JV team," recalled Dodge City head coach Justin Burke. "As a sophomore he may not have started every game, but he played a bunch in our 4/3 scheme. Then as a junior he became one of our leaders."

Dowling, who the Dodge City coaches and players call "Tubbs" (a childhood nickname after weighing more than 10 pounds at birth), was the team's 2nd leading tackler as a junior with 73. Then came his standout season as a senior.

"His senior year was his best," Burke said. "It was nothing short of sensational. He really matured being a team captain and leader. He played the game with passion and enthusiasm. For me as a coach, it was special to see his great talent come together as he grew as a player in these four years."

The 2009 team's leading tackler with 113, Dowling also had 10.5 tackles for a loss, two-and-a-half sacks, and two forced fumbles. He was named 1st team All-State by the Topeka Capital-Journal and the Wichita Eagle, as well as the Kansas Coach's Association. Other honors Dowling received were 1st team All-Conference (Western Athletic) and his team's (the Demons) MVP.

"He plays the game with a high motor," said Burke. "He wants to please, very coachable, and an extremely hard worker."

Dowling, 6-4, 232, who has been timed at 4.8 in the 40 received a lot of attention and offers (Tulsa, Air Force) prior to his commitment to the Wildcat program in July before the start of his senior year.

"I asked him if Kansas State was his dream school then why look anywhere else," Burke said. "But I think when he did look at other places it helped to reassure him that Manhattan was the only place for him. I think he's always wanted to be a Wildcat and play for Coach Snyder."

The Demons enjoyed their best season since 1994 in '09 going 8-3, winning their distinct and making it to the state quarterfinals. Burke's record at the school is 26-22 in five years. Teams Dowling was on went 22-17.

The previous five years prior to Burke's arrival the Demons were 8-37. Burke credits Dowling to being an instrumental part of the turnaround at Dodge City High School.

"He's been one of our key players here and a lot of fun having him around," said Burke. "He'll go to the Pee Wee camps and seems to be at his best working with kids. Laton's very caring in that way. In the classroom he's done a good job and has a GPA well over a 3.0."

Dowling had three catches at tight end for 119 yards and a touchdown and also picked up 15 yards in the fullback role. He played two years of basketball and three years of baseball at Dodge City.

Since graduating from Dodge City in December, Dowling has joined the Wildcat team and wears No. 51.

Two other notable Demon players, both of whom made All-Conference last year as juniors are Jesse Trent, a 6-3, 250 defensive lineman, and Bruce Campbell, a 6-2, 230 defensive end.

Laton Dowling

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